Ask the Best and Brightest: What's Gonna Happen to NASCAR?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

TTAC commentator Redbarchetta writes… “I was wondering after seeing that NASCAR picture in the latest post. Has there been any word on what happens to NASCAR funding? I’m mainly talking about GM and Chrysler since they are closest to death and cutting EVERYTHING. It would make sense that they would stop supporting that also. I’m really not even a huge NASCAR fan so I don’t even know how something like that would impact the sport. I was also wondering, just for kicks since the government won’t let it totally collapse, but what happens to NASCAR if Detroit folds and they have no more manufacturer support or sponsorship? Would the sport collapse also or just become the Toyota Camry-athon?”

Robert Farago
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  • Quasimondo Quasimondo on Nov 01, 2008

    I'd be more concerned about what will happen to Formula 1 if Max Mosley makes good on his promise to use a single engine manufacturer. NASCAR will survive. It may not be the huge moneymaker it is now, but it will survive. Open wheel racing in North America is dead. Years of bickering between the IRL and Champ car destroyed public interest, and NASCAR saw the opportunity to swoop in to take up the fans that the those open-wheel leagues gave away in their foolishness. You can't count on F1 coming to the rescue either. The tire debacle at Indy in 2006 is just a flimsy excuse for Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone to say that Indianapolis just wasn't good enough for them. Now that there's no F1 races in Canada, there's no legitimate alternative to NASCAR. You don't have to worry about lack of sponsorship from Detroit, either. They're way past the realm of sticking with automotive-based companies to sponsor them. NASCAR will be just fine. We could only wish we had a man like the late Bill France, Jr. running things in Detroit.

  • Morea Morea on Nov 01, 2008
    no_slushbox : Whatever happens to NASCAR it [is sub-par] compared to amateur racing. This is so true it bears repeating (without the colorful language of the original). I would further add that when "big money" enters any sport that sport becomes a farce in short order. Money trumps sportsmanship and true competition every time. As an example, just look at the Olympics. Countries and individuals will do whatever it takes (read: lie and cheat) just for feigned national glory or lucrative product endorsements, respectively. Go out and see those who race for the love of it alone!
  • Tigeraid Tigeraid on Nov 01, 2008
    no_slushbox Your talk about amateur racing really applies to "road racing", as opposed to oval racing. If you go to a NASCAR race at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, or Sears Point, you're gonna have the exact same experience--campers, free roaming around the course, BBQs, food, whatever. It's the exact same experience. It's more a product of the way road courses are set up, not the type of racing you're watching. But there are ovals where that works too (including "amateur" stockcar racing, like what I race)... my home track of Delaware for example, only has grandstands immediately in front of the front stretch... to the left and right of them are big open lawns with a bit of a slope. About half the fans put out blankets and BBQs and walk around and have a party during the races. The situation definitely varies depending on the track, not the form of racing. KeithBates Then go check out your local short track man--god knows we're racing on shoestrings. :p ferrarimanf355 Ford re-upped with Roush in the Cup series, but confirmed they are pulling support of their Trucks... Roush is rich enough that he can continue to support the Truck effort on his own, and it's been a VERY lucrative breeding ground for his "next young stars", so he's wise to keep it running.
  • Tigeraid Tigeraid on Nov 01, 2008

    Now, I was going to avoid the subject of "hating on stockcar racing" since most of the Best and Brightest are enlightened enough to respect what I do, if not enjoy it. But I saw a few of the comments here so I feel the need to reply, even if it's a bit off-topic. Regarding the "Difficulty" of my sport: Oval track racing is no more or less difficult than any motorsport--it takes just as much skill, only a different KIND of skill. Michael Schumacher would make an ass of himself in a Top Fuel Dragster; Sebastian Loeb wouldn't know how to pilot a Hydroracing Boat at all; and as we've seen, Dario Franchitti's a bit lost in a stockcar. It's all skill--just a different kind of skill. The fact that we have 4 left turns (or at places like Phoenix or Pocano, 5) doesn't make them any less difficult than 5 right turns and 3 left turns, or whatever. To call it easier or boring is to assume that the cars literally go in the corner, crank the steering wheel and just go through. That's ignorant, and shows no appreciation for the technical aspects of motor racing. Each corner of an oval is completely different and requires a different approach. Every oval is different from another (except for some of those lame 1.5 mile ovals)... Darlington is not Bristol, which is not Martinsville, which is not Daytona. Driving an oval at, say, 8/10ths? Now that's easy. Driving it by yourself at 8/10ths? Even easier. Like the story I told in the "ride of your life" post, most people think going at 8/10ths is scary fast, when they're really driving around like grandma out there. It's that last two tenths where the skill comes in, balancing a car with an ancient chassis and not NEARLY enough tire on a knife-edge for 500 laps, in 200 degree cockpit temperatures (a typical driver will lose 5 lbs in a race), against 42 others who are trying to beat you. Stockcar drivers have amazing skill in terms of cardio (dealing with the temperatures), drafting, dealing with traffic, and dealing with tire management. Formula 1 drivers have amazing skill in terms of reflexes and athleticism, as well as hitting all the right points on a track. Rally racers have amazing skill in terms of car control and reflexes, as well as attention span. Drag racers have amazing skill in terms of dealing with huge amounts of horsepower without wrecking, and great reaction times. All skill. Just different skill. The "stock" in stockcar Frankly I'm getting sick of this. Right NOW, the Car of Tomorrow is so far removed from stock that I actually have started saying it too--it has literally nothing in common with the street car. HOWEVER, the problem isn't so much that they say "Toyota" or "Chevy" on the nose, it's that they are marketed that way, as if they expect people to be fooled and follow the "buy on Monday" mantra. If they just stopped talking about Ford/Chevy/Dodge/Toyota and remained focused on the teams and drivers, this topic simply wouldn't matter. Stockcar racing hasn't been about factory cars since about 1972, with the advent of the tube-frame chassis and the banning of the winged Mopars. It's always been about the competition and the drivers first--if you wanna tack on a brand preference after that, go nuts. Very few of the fans in NASCAR are "Chevy fans" and therefore follow only Hendrick and RCR drivers. The majority are "Busch fans" and follow him from Chevy to Toyota, or "Martin fans" and follow him from Ford to Chevy. It's just not that important. And I think maybe the manufacturers are finally starting to see that. I'm what some would call a "Chevy guy", but when Mark Martin drove for Roush, I proudly wore a Valvoline/Ford jacket. Now that he's driving for Carquest/Kelloggs/Chevy next year, I'll be proudly wearing that instead. In Dirt Late Model and Modified racing, the cars have "Chevy Camaro" and "Ford Fusion" or whatever written on the noses--and since they're highly modified bodies, they don't even give the PRETENSE of being those factory cars. And you know what? Not a single fan gives a damn, because the racing is awesome, and the cars are still Chevy or Ford powered. The word "stockcar" is just used because, at least up until the Car of Tomorrow, they were loosely based on factory cars. That's all. If you want to call them "silhouette cars" in your head to make yourself feel better, feel free. If you want to see stockcars that are actually close to stock, again, go out to your local short track. My Super Stock Monte Carlo is a 1982 Monte Carlo, with the factory frame, most of the factory suspension, and the factory body. It has a 350 instead of a 305 and makes roughly twice the power, but I still think it qualifies as "factory." Or, better yet, your local 4 Cylinder class, where manufacturer vs manufacturer is alive and well. Ford has dominated 4 Cylinder racing for over a decade with the 2.3L Mustang--now that they're getting harder to find, and the classes are open to FWD cars, the Mustang is seeing fierce competition, especially from Honda Accords and VW Jettas, as well as Cavaliers and Neons, and the odd 240SX. The rules keep the cars VERY VERY stock, and the racing is fantastic. GO CHECK IT OUT. Supporting your local short track is entertaining, and way cheaper and easier than going to a big-league race anyway. The closest thing these days to ideal factory racing won't be found on an oval because the cars have evolved so much in terms of safety and affordable build costs that it's become unfeasible. It will instead be found in SPEED GT and Touring Car. Which I follow religiously. :)